OIL CITY, Pennsylvania — What do you get if you put 12 tuba-toting, holiday-loving musicians all together in one room?
Jim Self, an Oil City High School graduate known as a one of the world's premier tubists, compiled that scene, called it "'Tis the Season Tuba Jolly" and then created it as a jazzy Christmas CD.
In a blurb announcing the new CD, Self writes that one of his "favorite sounds is a men's choir — its rich overtones convey a lot of beauty and emotion." The instrumental equivalent to the male vocal is a tuba, he said.
Self, principal tubist with several professional organizations, including the Pasadena Symphony and the Los Angeles Opera, is an adjunct professor of tuba and chamber music in Los Angeles, California As a freelance musician, he is a published composer and arranger with 35 titles to his credit.
Since 1974 he has played music for more than 1,500 movies as well as hundreds of recordings and television shows and been a featured soloists on many of them, including the "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" movie where his tuba was the voice of the mothership.
Tapping into his musical cohorts, Self recently assembled a band of a dozen tuba players — an ensemble described as "the Hollywood Tuba 12" — in Los Angeles to play Christmas songs.
Their rendition, mixed in with notes from a few other orchestra performers, produced the holiday tuba CD that offers "Christmas music you can feel," said Self.
It features 12-part arrangements of 20 favorite holiday songs, all done on what Self describes as "Santa's favorite instrument — the tuba."
"Listening to this recording will put you in the holiday spirit and will be good for your nerves, winter colds and hangovers — kind of like a massage," said the horn-player who served as performer, producer and conductor.
The tuba tunes include the holiday standards like "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" as well as several variations such as "Joy TUBA World" and the signature piece "'Tis the Season TUBA Jolly." There are two Hanukkah songs, too.
"My favorite is the title piece," said Self. "But there is one slow tune — "Somewhere in My Memory" from the "Home Alone" movie. I do a solo on that."
A little history
Self was born in Franklin in 1943 and graduated from Oil City High School in 1961. His music career began when instructor Gerald Keefer started Self on tuba at the South Side Junior High School.
Under the tutelage of high school music teachers Frank Puleo and Phil Runzo, Self progressed enough to be chosen repeatedly to join district, regional and state bands.
While in high school, Self performed with the Franklin Silver Cornet Band, the Rocky Grove Fireman's Band, and the American Legion Band. He also played drums in the Indian Bonnettes.
The musician earned a degree in music education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then served three years as a member of the U.S. Army Band in Washington. Self received a master's degree in tuba at Catholic University and a doctorate at the University of Southern California where he is adjunct professor of tuba and chamber music.
Loyal to his home high school, Self set up a Jim Self Instrumental Music Scholarship in Oil City for young musicians. In 2011, he donated a prize sousaphone to the Oil City High School music department.
Self's holiday CD, which is the first Christmas collection he has produced, and more of his musical scores are available at his professional website, http://www.bassethoundmusic.com.
"Why the name basset hound music? I have 45 years worth of basset hounds and have them now. I think they are cool dogs," said Self. "It was a natural choice."
Information from: The Derrick, http://www.thederrick.com